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The Fentanyl Crisis: How To Protect Your Kids

Derek Maltz, former director of DEA Special Operations, and Tim Mackey, CEO of S-3 Research, join Dr. Phil on this week’s Phil in the Blanks podcast when he addresses the national crisis of drugs, both real and counterfeit, laced with deadly doses of fentanyl. Sold in the streets and on social media, these substances are easily accessible to our youth. Find out how just one pill can kill, what you should know, and how you can protect your kids.


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  • “Kids are supposed to learn from their mistakes, not die from them!” -Derek Maltz

  • “Today may be the most urgently relevant Phil in the Blanks that I think I have ever done!”-Dr. Phil

  • “This is my responsibility. I'm sorry that I have not yelled louder and longer before, but I am going to make up for that now. I pledge to you!” -Dr. Phil

  • “It is so important that you know who you're getting your medications from that in fact, you're getting what you think you're getting.”- Dr. Phil

  • “Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine!”-Dr. Phil

  • “Killing our kids in record levels!” -Dr. Phil

Show Notes:

  • [00:00] -Introduction

  • [04:24] Kids, young adults, teenagers are dying as we speak, buying counterfeit pills laced with Fentanyl.

  • [04:58] Leading cause of death for 18-25 years in America.

  • [05:49] Fentanyl is more prevalent than COVID deaths, car accidents and even suicide.

  • [06:09] Killing Americans at record levels. [07:35] Drug dealers are very aggressive in marketing. [08:36] 80 to 9000 drug dealers on social media over the past 2 years. [09:46] Many different marketing tactics the drug dealers use. [13:23] Drug dealers are producing 70 million pills a month. [13:44] If you've got 20 to 30 pounds of fentanyl that you find, how many people can that kill? [15:05] They don't care if their customer dies if the business is booming. [16:06] Counterfeit medicines. [18:42] Parents listen, this is urgently relevant! [19:52] Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, [21:07] Language, symbols, hashtags drug dealers use to communicate. [25:16] Little repercussion for a lot of these digital drug dealers

  • [26:03] How many kids are going to be dead in the next two or three years if this doesn't stop? [27:54] Drugs are from labs in China and they're killing our kids at record levels [29:30] Hundreds of millions of pills and 150,000-200,000 pounds of fentanyl made it into the country. [33:44] You're not supposed to die from mistakes [36:51] I want every parent that is listening to this, to sit down with their child and inform them.

  • [39:05] We are talking about your life!

  • [41:01] A lot of these [social] platforms weren't designed to do this type of activity, but unfortunately, this is what has happened.

  • [50:11] If it's not FDA regulated and approved, you have no idea what you're getting.

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  • Tim Mackey, Professor at UC San Diego in the Global Health Program, Director of the Global Health and Data Policy Institute.

  • CEO and Co-Founder of health and technology company S-3 Research. It was created to identify illicit drug dealers online.

  • Created a special system that detects illegal sales of opioids and other counterfeit drugs online and has the users/sellers removed. He works with stakeholders like Google, YouTube, and Snapchat.


  • Digital drug dealers target possible consumers in many ways.

  • We have seen a volume of around 80-90,000 dealers on social media over the past 2 years amongst all the social media platforms we are working with – we don’t have a specific number for one platform (Snapchat), as there are many sellers that use multiple platforms.

  • The way people are posting/selling online is changing.

  • Two years ago, most people were posting messages/pictures with the actual drugs in the pictures – this was to prove that they had the drugs.

  • They would put the drug information in the photos and their contact info saying, “DM me”. Essentially the photos were their advertisements.

  • Sellers will also post comments on videos or photos if the platform allows. For instance, a seller may search a hashtag like #caraccident and will see that someone was in the hospital and comment on the photo saying to DM them if they want to buy anything.

  • They also change the spelling of drug names; put hyphens between the spelling of it, misspell the word, put commas between the letters, or use other languages that have similar shapes/characters, but you can still understand what word they are trying to spell.

  • Some dealers will wait until they see people talking about drugs and then they will contact them and quickly delete their contact.

  • Some drug dealers will be really spammy – they will blast out their “advertisement” or contact information knowing they will get shut down and then they will delete their account.

  • Dealers may have one account/phone for selling drugs and another account/phone as a burner account; they can redirect people to different accounts.

  • We do have sources working with to help us stay up to date on the hashtags, names, and where people are selling, but a lot of the activity is not available to the public because drug sellers change their tactics very quickly once the sites/law enforcements catch on to what they are doing.

  • We don’t make that information public because we don’t want to put the blame on any platform, or compromise any ongoing investigation, and don’t want to advertise where/how people can find drugs

  • Derek S. Maltz retired from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after 28 years of dedicated service and is currently working for Pen-Link Ltd as the Executive Director, Government Relations.

  • Mr. Maltz is also a National Security, Public Safety Executive who appears on national news networks as a subject matter expert.

  • Mr. Maltz was the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Special Operations Division (SOD) for almost 10 years before he left the federal government.

  • Mr. Maltz also previously held the position as the Chief of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is the oldest and largest drug task force in America.

  • As the Agent in Charge of SOD, SAC Maltz was instrumental in the growth of SOD from 9 to 30 participating agencies including personnel from the U.K., Canada, Australia and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

  • Mr. Maltz oversaw the operations of approximately 500 SOD personnel and was responsible for an annual budget of $100 million, while incorporating the DOJ’s priority International Organized Crime and Gang Operational programs into the center.

  • Mr. Maltz played a vital leadership role in developing and implementing DOJ’s and Department of Homeland Security’s nationwide de-confliction program to better synchronize the criminal law enforcement efforts around the world.

  • SOD was responsible for leading the coordination of the high-profile multi-agency efforts that resulted in the capture of Sinaloa Cartel Kingpin El Chapo Guzman.

  • Mr. Maltz was also featured on CBS 60 Minutes, NBC and CNN in response to SOD’s role in the tremendous law enforcement success against the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • SAC Maltz formally established the Counter Narco-Terrorism Operations Center (CNTOC) in January 2007. Since its establishment, the CNTOC successfully coordinated several significant narco-terrorism operations, including the identification of the Lebanese Canadian Bank as a facilitator involved with an international trade-based money laundering scheme supporting Hezbollah, and a subsequent U.S. Treasury Patriot Act 311 action.

  • This was the first time a 311 action was used in this manner in conjunction with law enforcement on a drug case.

  • This unprecedented event ultimately led to a $150 million seizure as part of the Hezbollah drug and money laundering in